Knowing what you know nowâ€¦.
THE INTERCEPT: Obama Opens NSAâ€™s Vast Trove of Warrantless Data to Entire Intelligence Community, Just in Time for Trump
January 13 2017, 6:37 p.m.
With only days until Donald Trump takes office, the Obama administration on Thursday announced new rules that will let the NSA share vast amounts of private data gathered without warrant, court orders or congressional authorization with 16 other agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security.
The new rules allow employees doing intelligence work for those agencies to sift through raw data collected under a broad, Reagan-era executive order that gives the NSA virtually unlimited authority to intercept communications abroad. Previously, NSA analysts would filter out information they deemed irrelevant and mask the names of innocent Americans before passing it along.
The change was in the works long before there was any expectation that someone like Trump might become president. The last-minute adoption of the procedures is one of many examples of the Obama administration making new executive powers established by the Bush administration permanent, on the assumption that the executive branch could be trusted to police itself.
Executive Order 12333, often referred to as â€œtwelve triple-three,â€ has attracted less debate than congressional wiretapping laws, but serves as authorization for the NSAâ€™s most massive surveillance programs â€” far more than the NSAâ€™s other programs combined. Under 12333, the NSA taps phone and internet backbones throughout the world, records the phone calls of entire countries, vacuums up traffic from Google and Yahooâ€™s data centers overseas, and more.
In 2014, The Intercept revealed that the NSA uses 12333 as a legal basis for an internal NSA search engine that spans more than 850 billion phone and internet records and contains the unfiltered private information of millions of Americans.
In 2014, a former state department official described NSA surveillance under 12333 as a â€œuniverse of collection and storageâ€ beyond what Congress has authorized.